Minnesota Vikings center Matt Birk is not happy with the job being done by Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players' Association. Not at all.
Birk sounded off to columnist Mark Craig in Friday's edition of the Minnesota Star-Tribune.
"Don't put this in the paper ... no, wait, go ahead and put it in," Birk told Craig. "Gene Upshaw is a piece of (expletive). Too many guys in the league just accept whatever Gene says. I don't know why no one has called this guy out."
The former Pro Bowler believes the recent breakdown in negotiations between the NFL and the players' union is hurting the sport.
"It's a joke, it really is," Birk said in the paper. "Everyone is making money. A lot of money. You think anyone wants to hear about the money problems of the NFL owners or players? It's bad pub for the league. It's bad for all of us."
Birk, a Harvard graduate, says the prospects of a uncapped season — something that could happen if a deal is not struck before the end of this weekend — aren't good for everyone.
"The reality is that's not the case. And you're seeing that it's not the leverage we were told it would be."
If there is no deal and the cap doesn’t increase, it would leave a glut of players on the free-agent market and many teams without much money to sign them. Next year, the final season of the contract, would be without a cap — and that would contain limitations that could hurt the players, such as raising the number of years of eligibility for free agency from four to six.
"And we'll lose some of our 401(k) and annuities, and some benefits, too," Birk said. "That's a huge deal to the younger guys making the minimum who might not have 10-year careers. Those are guys the union needs to look out for.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
On the surface, the dispute is over percentage points — the union says it wants 60-plus percent of league revenues earmarked for the players; the owners are offering 56.2 percent. That amounts to approximately $10 million per team per year.
"Gene thinks we're making all this money because of Gene Upshaw," Birk told the paper. "No, we're making all of this money because of TV. This sport is huge, and what's going on right now is hurting all of us."
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